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Bill Clinton 17, Clinton 15, America 10, Us 8, Elizabeth Warren 5, Barack Obama 5, Charlotte 5, George W. Bush 4, Obama 4, John Heilman 4, New York City 4, Msnbc 4, Romney 3, Christine Quinn 3, Sandra Fluke 3, Andrea Mitchell 3, Sandra 3, Paul Ryan 3, Dnc 3, John 2,
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  MSNBC    NOW With Alex Wagner    News/Business. Alex Wagner.  
   Forces driving the day's stories. New.  

    September 6, 2012
    9:00 - 10:00am PDT  

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hello, from charlotte, north carolina. where president obama is scheduled to accept his party's nomination in a few hours. provided bill clinton is done using the microphone. in fact, he may still be speaking. it's thursday, september 6th, and this is "now."
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joining me today, the man who helped bring the word game change into common parlance. msnbc political analyst and national affairs editor for "new york" magazine john heilman. "world news america's" patty kay. msnbc contributor, sam stein of the "huffington post" and mark leibovich making his debut from "the new york times" magazine. >> warming up. >> how do you give a 48 minute deeply wonky highly technical policy address that also happens to be must-see tv right down to the last second? the answer, america, is bill clinton. the romney campaign believes it will win if they make this campaign about the economy and the former president took that as a challenge. he made a passionate pitch for what president obama has done to save the economy. >> here it is. he inherited a deeply damaged
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economy. he put a floor under the crash. he began the long, hard road to recovery and laid the foundation for a modern more well-balanced economy that will produce millions of good new jobs, vibrant new businesses and lots of new wealth for innovators. but are we better off than we were when he took office? >> the speech lasted nearly 20 minutes longer than was planned and included so much off script ad libbing that even the teleprompter could not keep up. the former president settled any questions about his support for obama. testifying about whether the economy has improved under obama. clinton put his personal judgment on the line. >> i just want you to know that i believe it. with all my heart. i believe it. >> in addition to a forceful defense of the president's record, clinton rebutted specific republican attacks one by one. on welfare, on taxes, on
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medicare, and on medicaid. and he indicted the gop in no uncertain terms on the subject of job creation. >> in the last 29 months, our economy has produced about 4.5 million private sector jobs. we ould hacould have done bette last year the republicans blocked the president's job plan, costing the economy more than a million new jobs. so here's another jobs score. president obama plus 4.5 million. congressional republicans zero. >> the whole thing probably could have ended there. except that around 11:30 p.m., the country was reminded that bill clinton was, yes, just a warmup act. as obama stood with his predecessor on stage, it was a reminder that the main event is yet to come. even if president clinton didn't exactly want to get off the stage yet, or really ever.
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john heilman, i go to you first on this, my friend. did president clinton successfully make the pitch, make the case that the country is, in fact, better off than it was four years ago? >> well, first of all, i've been watching -- i've been to every bill clinton speech since 1988 like that one and there's nothing like the maximum canine when he gets off the leash. he's a very different kind of guy than barack obama. barack obama is an orator who practices inspiration. bill clinton is a southern talker mostly about persuasion. he marshals evidence, has a mastery of policy, he marries it up to a strategic political mind that's second to none. he did that last night, and the case for why the economy, why the country's better off than it was four years ago is in the numbers. you can point to the numbers. that's all you need. it's one of the most mystifying things the obama campaign had a momentarily hard time answering
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that question. bill clinton went to the tape. that's what he's best at, doing that in a colloquial understandable way so people can get into the thickets of policy and statistics but he makes it readily accessible. think the thing that makes it so powerful isromney campaign made a horrible mistake by elevating bill clinton in the previous part of the campaign, putting him in ads of welfare, all the time, to point and say, this is the good democrat, this is a democrat you can believe. now the democrat is out there saying all the things the romney campaign has gotten wrong. very hard for them to rebut under those circumstances. >> it is remarkable that that whole teeing up to the sort of the romney team trying to embrace the clinton legacy. bill clinton is still alive and bill clinton is a surrogate for barack obama. what are you guys doing? that said, i think john raises a really good point, patty. we played tape of the president earlier this week. he was asked to grade himself.
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he said, incomplete. here you have a man who brought america to the thickets of the swamp of policy seamlessly, seemingly effortlessly. the question is, what does the obama administration need to or what does the campaign need to do? what lessons cant they learn frm bill clinton last night? >> i mean, to an extent bill clinton also said the record is incomplete. he just made a very strong case for keeping the incumbent in office in order to complete what has already been started. he said something that the white house has not been able to do, that nobody, he included himself, not even i, bill clinton, which is a big admission for bill clinton, could have fixed the economy in the space of four years but obama has moved it in the right direction. speaking to democrats here over the past couple of days, i think what bill clinton did that they wish obama had done more of is embrace his record and also go off to the republicans on obstructionism.
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that's been hard for the white house to do because you can't blame it on the other side, right? you have to be able to say what you're doing, not what the other side is not letting you do. he made a very strong case which is what, perhaps, the white house has not been able to do about why he needs four more years to carry on doing what he has started doing. as john said, he did it with the numbers but he also did it by going after republicans in a way that the white house felt comfortable with. >> i felt like clinton -- >> four more years! >> i don't know how these people feel about the speech. >> is it more about obama? if we talk about how president obama talks do and about the republicans versus how bill clinton talked about the republicans, i want to play a little bit of sound last night. he has a way of addressing and taking down the party that is masterful. and it's pointed, but it's incredibly subtle at the same time. let's take a listen to bill clinton talking about the gop. >> looked like an acceptable, reasonable, moderate alternative to president obama, they just
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didn't say very much about the ideas they've offered over the last two years. they couldn't. because they want to tgo back into the same old policies that got us in trouble in the first place. as another president once said, there they go again. >> i mean, brilliant. there may go again. but he has, i guess i'll call it almost like a rye sense of humor about the gop. while at the same time really whether it's the zero, you know, he really brings home the idea that the republicans are at fault for the jobs numbers being where they are. >> sure, and he can tell it in this sort of hokie child book tale type of way. the lines that stood out to me e is when he was talking to paul ry ryan's health care attacks, saying it was brass. it obviously wasn't in his script. the other thing very few people talk about is when he talked about the medicare policy. he was talking about the people and how they rely on medicaid,
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poor people. he said, i don't know what they're going to do if these people get into office. that was powerful and resonated with a lot of people beyond just this set. he has a way of doing it. to this love of the stage. brian grim, our reporter, noted he was at a dnc event, bill clinton was at a dnc event after the speech, saw a stage and got up and spoke for 20 more minutes and there are rumors he was on the light rail just sort of -- >> a small soap box. >> he just likes it. he wants to engage the crowd. he feeds off of it. i think john's right. obama is a different type of speaker. he can inspire. bill clinton can tell a story and weave a tale better than anyone else. it gets to a point it's nice to have as a surrogate a former president and mitt romney doesn't have it. they didn't mention george w. bush for a reason. bill clinton is an amazing surrogate. >> and a guy who still loves the game. we played that footage of them, president obama, president clinton on stage. president clinton still shaking hands. president obama standing around like, exit stage left or stage
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right. dana milbank writing today, inevitably the subject matter frequently returned to the speaker's favorite topic, bill clinton. obama and his advisers calculated it was worth risking the perception that obama was trying to ride a former president's coattails to re-election. a cost/benefit analysis, mark. clinton is a larger than life figure. there are pros and cons there, too, in terms of reminding much b people how much better the economy was under clinton. >> the republicans have drawn that contrast and he closed it up pretty good last night. another powerful thing clinton did, i think he sort of marginalized today's republican party in what i thought was a very dept way. he played the ex-president's card by embracing george h.w. bush, ronald reagan and george w. bush. that evokes for people the center. this is a republican party that
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democrats like bill clinton were comfortable working with. democrats like george w. bush were comfortable with. that separates the republican party really pre-2008 from today's republican party which, frankly, as a brand, is very powerful within the base but is very lacks in the center. >> i think george w. bush got more cheers last night for his work on aids than he did throughout the republican convention. >> clinton mentioned five presidents in his speech. four of them were republicans. and praised all of them and actually just makes the sting in the tale that much more poisonous when he goes after the -- draw that distinction between these guys are not like those guys. these guys are a different thing. not like your father's republican party. >> and there was this vast right wing conspiracy, of course. yeah, exactly. >> the republicans, they keep talking about how it was -- >> how you look back at things
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in history, it's not actually reality. >> the past is not past. it isn't even past. after the break, stuck in the middle. former president clinton made a powerful pitch for the middle class last night. so did elizabeth warren who used the opportunity to critique governor romney and the republican vision for the economy. >> the republican vision is clear. i got mine. the rest of you are on your own. after all, mitt romney's the guy who said, corporations are people. no, governor romney. corporations are not people. >> we will discuss warren and clinton's competing messages for the middle class, next on "now." bob...
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oh, hey alex. just picking up some, brochures, posters copies of my acceptance speech. great! it's always good to have a backup plan, in case i get hit by a meteor. wow, your hair looks great. didn't realize they did photoshop here. hey, good call on those mugs. can't let 'em see what you're drinking. you know, i'm glad we're both running a nice, clean race. no need to get nasty. here's your "honk if you had an affair with taylor" yard sign. looks good. [ male announcer ] fedex office. now save 50% on banners. is now within your grasp with the e-trade 360 investing dashboard.
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the system is rigged. look around. oil companies guzzle down billions in profits. billionaires pay lower tax rates than their secretaries. and wall street ceos, the same ones who wrecked our economy and destroyed millions of jobs, still strut around congress, no shame, tdemanding favors and acting like we should thank them. does anyone here have a problem with that? >> that was massachusetts senate candidate elizabeth warren. framing this election as a fight for fairness and for the middle class. as is written in "the new york times," the vision warren outlined is to some degree at odds with that of president clinton, leaving the man they both support, president obama,
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somewhere in between. bai writes, mr. clinton is president who made the sustained case to democrats they had to be pro growth and pro wall street. mrs. warren's indictments against the excesses of wall street and the advocation of centrist democrats became popular among a new generation of old-style economic populists. as president, mr. obama has often seemed to veer between post-partisan pragmatism and anti-corporate populism. joining the panel now, assistant democrat house leader, south carolina representative, jim. pleasure to have you on, senator. thanks for joining us. a big, a big, a huge week for the democrats. >> absolutely. >> i'd love to get your take on this convention versus conventions past. because the conventional wisdom is that this is a barn burner. but to matt bai's point, i think he makes a really interesting argument which is that president obama kind of came into the office under the umbra lmbrella great expectations and folks i think within the democratic party were unsure of sort of
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where he would go on a real specific policy level. >> sure. >> he has in some ways proven to be a praguetist and at the same time in this election season we're seeing him adopt more fiery rhetoric, the fairness argument is very much part of his platform. i wonder what you make of that sort of split between the bill clinton sort of centrist democrats and the warren style, new school, old-style democrats. >> well, bill clinton is a southerner. he is used to the kind of preachy politics that go over so well in a hall like that. he's very informative. barack obama is a different guy. he inspires a little better than he informs. and so down in the country where i'm from, we would say bill clinton splained it very well. it's up to barack obama to explain his vision to the people, and growing up a baseball fan, i've seen back to back home runs before.
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i expect to see one tonight. >> so, sam, let me ask you about that, though, because, you know, there was -- if we're tracing the president's sort of ark as the commander in chief and the head of the country, effectively, there was a point where he seemed to be above the fray. the rhetoric around his message and where he wants to take the country has gotten more specifically democratic. he's definitely playing to the base, both as campaign message and also seemingly in terms of policy. what do you make of what bai argues which there is tension between those two camps and obama is in a difficult position? >> first of all, you want a back to back to back home run because you like michelle obama's first speech, too. secondly, i think when he -- we wrote about this in the "huffington post." when barack obama came into office it was with the idea you could change the way politics operated. instantaneo instantaneously, largely because of the economic crisis he
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inherited, he had to be an operative inside the political system, play an inside game, get a stimulus passed. when they were crafting health care, they had to cut deals or thought they had to cut deals. i think what changed everything is the debt ceiling deal. they tried to negotiate something there. it blew up in their faces. they said, you know what, rather than catering to the political realities, we have to shape the political realities. it hasn't necessarily been successful. the jobs bill still stalled. they got the bpayroll tax cut. it's a different type of politics than we saw in the first years and it's carried over into this election. >> alex, isn't this to some extent a question of language and tone? actually, over the last couple years much more so barack obama since the debt ceiling crisis has taken on the narrative of saving the middle class. and he's talked much more. stan greenberg came out with the that book "it's the middle class, stupid." went to the president and said, find a more active way to talk about the middle class. this is really the great rcrisi
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facing america at the moment. you can't run for president of the united states using the kind of language that elizabeth warren used last night that is so clearly an attack on corporations and the corporate culture. that's just not what america is. this is not a socialist country. it's not a social democratic countku count country. that doesn't wash for somebody running for president in the country. if you look at what he's talking about in terms of the middle clar class he uses the middle class as his litmus speech in everything he poses. >> to go back to matt bai's point, there's a real distinction between a bill clinton democrat and elizabeth warren democrat. bill clinton never met a big company ceo he didn't love. governor of arkansas he courted business to come in. bob ruben as treasury secretary, these guys were titans of wall street. he disa approves of elizabeth's
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rhetoric on this, disapproved when president obama has called the people fat cats. the president has charted this weird middle course. he's passed a financial reform bill that did not have very sharp teeth. he personally kind of showed elizabeth warren the door rather than letting her be the head of the consumer -- he didn't fight that fight. he decided not to fight that fight. yet he also hasn't courted wall street. fact he hasn't courted wall street that well has been part of the problem in terms of fund-raising. he's been betwixted in between, not getting the advantage of being a full-throated corporatist. politically and financially he's been kind of in the middle. >> what's creating this friction, we have this week, what's left totally unsaid, a lot of deregulation that people argue caused the crisis happened under clinton and we're sweeping that aside and not talking about it. >> representative clyburn, i want to ask you, you know,
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inherent in both of these arguments, i think maybe the thing that ties the warren-style democrats to the clinton-style democrats is emerging in theme of sort of moral government and the idea the democrats are now taking the narrative of big government saying, big government isn't an albatross around your neck. it's the thing that weaves communities together. it is the thing that does, in fact, build business. it builds communities, builds roads. they're really owning it and coding it in an almost, i said it before, mutt moral language which is a very different -- we were talking about the gop basically punting on foreign policy during the rnr. now you have democrats wrapping their arms around defense and foreign policy and the moral argument inherent in their policy arguments. >> that's what government is all about. to us democrats. the fact of the matter is, my first government job was a public school teacher. we in our society depend upon government workers to keep us secure and that's what our military men and women are all
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about. we want to be safe in our homes, in our communities. that's what police officers are all about. that's what firemen are all about. and i think that what we're attempting to do now, and i think we're doing it very well, is getting people to understand. we are talking about bigger government. we're talking about better government. more effective people in office. and i think the biggest mistake my republican friends made were to try to demonize public workers. try to demonize public school teachers, our first responders. these people now know who their real friends are and we're going to leave this convention with them on our side very solidly i'm sure. >> we'll leave it there. thank you to representative jim clyburn. thanks for coming on. coming up, another lady's night. democrats continue their focus on women's issues. last night at the convention. women's health advocate sandra fluke used her speech to call attention to the attitude of some republicans on the subject.
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>> an america in which our president, when he hears that a young woman has been verbally attacked, thinks of his daughters, not his delegates or his donors. and in which our president stands with all women. >> we will discuss fluke's speech and social issues when new york city council speaker christine quinn joins the panel. ahead on "now." time for "the your business" entrepreneur of the week. melody, founder of aca products, led the company to more than $3 million in revenue in three years. but some bad decisions caused sales to plummet to a tenth of
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billions in the economy. at chevron, if we can't do it right, we won't do it at all. we've got to think long term. we've got to think long term. ♪ developing now, democrats are responding today to a third nazi reference at the dnc here in charlotte. south carolina democratic party chairman dick harpootlian said
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governor nikki haley was down in the bunker a la eva braun. we got a statement from the obama campaign. he joins us live. >> harpootlian was talking about nikki haley because she's been holding opposition press conferences. the obama campaign said this is inappropriate, that it's out of line, that there's no place for that kind of comment, that kind of inflammatory language in the campaign so they're pushing back hard. of course, because this deals with jewish vote and what, perhaps, is the key foreign policy issue of this campaign, israel, certainly the foreign policy issue that has dominated mitt romney's criticism of president obama. on that front, we also were able to confirm with top campaign officials that yesterday the president personally intervened in the decision to change the party platform to say that jerusalem is, in fact, the capital of israel. now, you'll recall they had to change that because that was not
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said explicitly. we now know the president did personally intervene. alex? >> nbc's ron allen at the convention on the convention floor. we'll be talking about all those things a little later in the hour. coming up, the main event. president obama gets set to make his re-election case to the nation tonight in his 2008 dnc speech, the candidate outlined a specific and aggressive policy agenda including his plans for the tax code. >> change means a tax code that doesn't reward the lobbyists who wrote it but the american workers and small businesses who deserve it. i will stop giving tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas and i will start giving them to companies that create good jobs right here in america. >> regardless of whether or not the president has achieved those goals in his first term, will he use tonight to outline certain plans for a second term? we will discuss that ahead on "now." ♪ [ acoustic guitar: upbeat ]
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mr. romney and mr. ryan are
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came pa campaigning for women's votes by saying women need their help. okay. this is coming from two men who are micommitted to ending insurance coverage for birth control, who would turn women's health care decisions over to our bosses. as my grandmother back in texas would have said, any more help from mitt romney and i'm going to have to take in ironing. >> that was planned parenthood president cecile richards. last night democrats came to the convention with a clear message. the republican party will turn back the rights of women from equal pay to reproductive health. they painted a dark picture of what a romney administration would do. and a fiery speech, sandra fluke, the woman shut out of a congressional hearing on contraception, told the audience that the choice is clear. >> during this campaign, we've heard about two profoundly different futures that could await women in this country.
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and how one of those futures looks like an offensive, obsolete relic of our past. warnings of that future are not distractions. they are not imagined. that future could become real. >> joining the panel now is new york city council speaker christine quinn. >> thank you. >> great to have you on set. >> thanks. >> so let's jump off of sandra fluke's comments about obsolete relics. the democrats are pushing a narrative that they're the party of the future and the republicans are the party of the past. i want to know what you make of that and what kind of triage the gop can do, if any, to ameliorate their image. >> those are the facts. look at their platform, look at our platform.
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we're a platform that is about including everyone, embracing everyone, saying everyone matters, everyone's family matters. everyone's health care matters. everyone's personal decisions about themselves matter. the republicans have a very different perspective. we're going to decide who is in our tent or not. we're going to decide what families matter. we're going to decide who we leave out and we are going to make decisions for women even if we never have those types of choices before us. it isn't a narrative or a dialogue. it is a fact. the republicans can kind of spin and say they love women and do kind of nice speeches but they don't have any substance that shows that they care about women, that they care about lgbt people, that they care about immigrants or want to embrace the entire of what really is our country. >> katty, we have the language in the democratic party platform that talks about marriage. we support marriage equality and support the movement to secure equal treatment under law for
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same-sex couples. we support the full repeal of the so-called defensive marriage act and the passage of the respect for marriage act. there is, as the speaker says, a lot of incredibly inclusionary language that is baked into the party platform. the question for republicans i think is, you know, there's a wing of the republican party that's made of up fiscal conservatives that see the direction the party is headed in and say we have to put the brakes on it yet we saw none of that brake pumping last week. in fact, if anything, it was a doubling down. >> yeah, but what we did see last week is a huge reach-out to women. i mean, almost every single speaker that took the stage in tampa made an incredibly overappeal to women in the audience, to women across the country, working women, to mothers, to single women. and it was, you know, it was the mommy convention down there in tampa, and if you look at that, now, it's a snapshot poll, but we came into this convention here in charlotte with a "washington post"/abc poll showing that barack obama's lead among women had declined. so women were listening to the
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republicans down in tampa. they still, of course, have concerns about health issues, but something that was said last week seems to have affected some women's opinions of the party. we'll see. it was only a snapshot poll. there needs to be a deeper poll. >> if you have to be that overt, literally stand up and say, we love women, right? where's the beef? you know what i'm saying? if you're that overt, when you got nothing. >> where's the beef? >> let's open this conversation to the men. >> where is the beef? >> jump in, guys. >> this is not just on women's issues. the speaker mentioned, you know, immigration as a huge concern. hispanic outreach. you saw sort of hispanic outreach by way of speaking in spanish at the gop. but not in terms of any policy specifics. the other thing the democrats are doing, we mentioned this a little bit before, is trying to bring in the moral compass question. specifically as it pertains to something like the paul ryan budget where the u.s. conference
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of catholic bishops went to paul ryan, a catholic and said, this plan that you have put forward, it hurts the poor, it's not a morally sound proposal for the country. sister simone campbell last night, the famous nun on the bus, made a case. let's listen to what she said last evening regarding the romney/ryan budget. >> in order to cut taxes for the wealthy, the romney/ryan budget would make it even tougher on hard working americans like billy to feed their families. pa paul ryan says this budget is in keeping with the moral values of our shares faith. i disagree. together we understand an immoral budget that hurts already struggling families does not reflect our nation's values. we are better than that. >> mark, i actually -- i thought this -- we talked a lot about the conference of catholic bishops being upset with the administration on the contraceptive coverage issue. this got a lot less play and i
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think in terms of the searing indictment of a plan from the catholic bishops to a catholic, it's incredibly powerful. >> right. and i think, you know, it goes to the early point about marginalization of the opposition. because i think the decision to put sandra fluke out there, one, it appeals to a lot of catholics. i mean, she's a student at georgetown. and also explicitly almost it makes rush limbaugh the face of the republican party on women's issues. right. >>? i mean, when you think sandra fluke you immediately think of what rush limbaugh said. that's obviously a winning issue the democrats think for themselves. >> i don't want to diminish what sandra said, you knew in some respects there were going to be conservative or republican voices who couldn't handle her speaking on the stage and say something deeply offensive. i think they wanted to bait them in. one thing that's interesting about this convention, no one's mentioned the supreme court. at least it hasn't gotten much
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mention at all. this is where all this stuff sort of meets. i'm waiting for one speaker to get up there and say, listen, this presidential election is most important because it could decide the next two, possibly three justices on the court. >> i would say -- >> not a motivating issue? >> no, you hear that every four years. every election is about the supreme court. >> the magnitude of the decisions the supreme court has handed down in the last year or two. i think there's a renewed interest in the power. >> i'm surprised, too, actually, sam, i agree, that they haven't used this as another wedge to drive voters in the middle. particularly female voters who might be worried about the kinds of rulings that would come down that would affect their health and reproductive rights. >> sandra fluke's speech was like ted kennedy's -- >> you're right. it is about reminding everybody that rush limbaugh is the face of the republican party on these women's issues and mitt romney had no response to rush limbaugh. >> that's the important point. you know what i mean? he had a moment where he could have stood up and just been a
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dignified gentleman and said, i may or may not disagree on the substance, but we don't treat americans like that. we don't treat students like that. in fact, we want a government where people come in and tell us what they think, even if we disagree. that's democracy. and he chose to be quiet and his silence spoke volumes about what he's willing to do to become president of the united states. and we simply can't have someone who's not willing to stand up for americans and just being nice -- my father always told me it's nice to be nice. we could be able to rally around that. he couldn't even say it's nice to be nice. that speaks volumes. >> thank you to new york city council speaker christine quinn. always great to see you. after the break, the closer. the venue may not be a football stadium, but president obama faces super bowl-esque expectations to deliver a strong speech tonight. what can we expect when the pres takes the podium? we're going to ask mike halperin because he knows everything.
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that's smarter power today. the president will describe the road forward, and it's going to be a very positive, uplifting message and one that really builds on a strong middle class, a lows people to move up into the middle class and as president clinton said last night, he's not going to double down on the trickle down. >> that was white house seen wr senior adviser valerie jarrett this morning giving a preview of what president obama will say tonight. he's expected to speak in broad terms of where he'll take the country over the next four years. the message won't be delivered with the usual pomp and circumstance, citing whether kmps the obama campaign yesterday scrapped plans to hold the speech in the bank of america stadium. in other words, no balloon drop. the move gave republicans an opening to take a jab at the president.
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a spokesperson for the rnc said, quote, after promising to hold the event at bank of america stadium rain or shine, suddenly team obama is moving inside after questions about enthusiasm for the event. what's the real forecast for the speech in 40% chance of lies and scattered executions. youch. guess those balloons meant a lot to some people. joining the panel now is "time" magazine and msnbc senior political analyst, mark ha halperin. mark? >> only 40%. >> hey, not so bad. let's talk about the president and the expectations here. he's had a team of surrogates to tee it up for him tonight. i guess what is your -- how bullish or bearish are you on him closing the deal as it were tonight and really sort of turning a corner in terms of the narrative of this election? >> they've done remarkably little previewing of the speech. we're left to push and tea leaf
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read. they feel in tampa governor romney did that put out a specific agenda. if you ask speakers who watch the convention, -- caused them to double down on the notion. the president can present some specifics about a second term, then he'll get credit for people for having a plan and maybe something more memorable. i don't know what those specifics will be. i do know given the competition with president clinton that because there is no balloon drop, he does plan to do balloon animals as part of his speech. >> what's really more of a crowd pleaser than -- >> wait until you seed poodle. >> he does an incredible giraffe hat. >> nicholas kristof in "the new york times" gives president obama an "f" for communication. a president's central job is not policy wonk but national team captain. there obama failed us. nor has he comforted the nation as franklin roosevelt did in his fireside chats. presidents always campaign in
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poetry and govern in prose but the proesz doesn't have to be chilly latin. what do you make of that? >> i don't go as far to say "f." think about the gap in what we saw in candidate obama, his oratorical skills and ability to communicate. think about the achievements barack obama has passed. the stimulus. the recovery act, that is. financial regulation. re-regulation. and the health care bill. none of those things are very popular in the country. and the reason they're not popular, largely, or at least part of the reason is, the president has not done a very effective job convincing people they were the right thing to do. we heard more from bill clinton last night about why health care, why obama care, is a good thing and what its benefits are than we've heard from this administration over the course of the last nine months or a year. the stimulus -- the recovery act, we aheard a better case mae on the stump by joe biden about why the recovery act kept us out of depression than we ever heard from the president. on those points it's very much true.
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there's also the fact that bill clinton does so well -- this dichotomy, but, you know, the president has in many cases for a lot of voters not expressed either at various times the degree of empathy or the degree of anger that they feel. and that's -- you don't want him to get outside of what he is. you can't force somebody to be someone they're not. the truth is there are voters who are frustrated because they to expect that kind of emotional connection with the president. they found the president wanting in those areas over the past 3 1/2 years. >> the other thing, mark, is jobs numbers are coming out on friday. so he could have the speech of his life, the numbers that -- the predictions right now is the numbers may be strong. the dow is surging right now. that will obviously give him extra lift or, you know, depression depending on where the numbers are on friday in terms of, you know, whether this convention is a bump or not. >> one of my favorite political expressions is, the bounce of a dead cat. but i don't -- i don't know that the unemployment number is going to matter as much this time. and maybe even the last number. i'm a little contrarian on this. i think people right now, it's kind of baked into people's
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calculation what's the unemployment level? if it's not significantly low or cig csignificantly higher, i do think it does anything to dilute the message coming out of here. i don't think it matters much because the romney campaign's right, voters care less about the statistics and how they're feeling about the economy in their real lives unless there's a dramatic change in unemployment. i don't think it matters one way or another. >> the bounce of a dead cat and also balloon animals. we can't ask for more from you. >> you may call me doolittle. >> i will. that's been built into every intro for you. the balloon animals are for the women. >> ask him for the finger puppets, the sword swallowing. he does all of them. >> i heard you can dance with a bear quite well. we have to leave it there. thank you to mark halperin. coming up we'll go off the cuff like president clinton. what does that mean? i don't know. that's what's in teleprompter. that's next in "what now." look! she wears the scarlet markings!
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welcome back. time for "what now." "vanity fair" has a list of the top ten bill clinton ab lib lines last night. ranked number one, you have to admit it, it takes some brass to attack a guy. mark leibovich your favorite line? >> it takes brass to attack a guy for what you did. >> sam stein? >> this is an important point, pay attention, as if he'd put unimportant points you shouldn't pay attention to into his speech. >> katty kay? >> i like this is personal to me, because it's so bill clinton. it's all personal and it's all about me. >> true story. john heilman? >> not on the list, but my favorite, citation of bob strauss saying every politician wants to -- >> i liked at 11:15, he said let's talk about the debt. what better time to get into it? thank you again to john, katty, sam and mark. that's all for "now" in charlotte. i'll see you tomorrow in new york city when i'm joined by
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john heilman again, kurt anderson, heather mcgee, and james lipton of inside the actor studio who will analyze president obama's speech. "andrea mitchell reports" is next from inside the arena. >> thank you so much, alex. bill clinton sets the stage for president obama to make his case for four more years. we'll talk about expectations with beau biden, barbara boxer, tom daschle, valerie jarrett and actress and activist tennessee delegate, ashley judd, chris cillizza, eugene robinson and michael steele all coming next on "andrea mitchell reports" live from the democratic national convention live in charlotte. this country was built by working people. the economy needs manufacturing. machines, tools, people making stuff. companies have to invest in making things. infrastructure, construction, production. we need it now more than ever.
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